Face Mask FAQ
Everything You Need To Know About Reusable Face Masks
Will Reusable Cloth Masks Protect Against The Virus?
It’s important to remember that right now, the best way to protect yourself and those around you from the coronavirus is to adhere to social distancing and frequent hand washing. Hand washing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus and other germs, and social distancing is currently the recommended method that everyone should follow to do our part in flattening the curve.
Along with hand washing and social distancing, the CDC recently recommended that all U.S. citizens wear some sort of facial mask when going into an environment where social distancing is not guaranteed.
Homemade cloth face masks have been shown to slow the spread of COVID-19 in a community. Facial masks help limit the spread of germs from the person wearing the mask to others near them since the coronavirus is spread through water droplets like coughing and sneezing.
It is vital to remember that surgical masks and N-95 masks are the best options for health professionals. Since there is a shortage of these masks, cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus when social distancing is not maintained.
How Does A Face Mask Help?
The coronavirus is commonly transmitted through droplets from sneezing, talking, and coughing.
Since COVID-19 is spread through contact, it is essential to limit the opportunity for transmission.
Wearing a mask is one way we can slow transmission.
Reusable cloth masks are not as effective as surgical masks, but surgical masks and N-95 masks should be saved for health professionals in hospitals and other high-risk areas.
In light of severe shortages of medical masks, cloth coverings can help prevent the spread of infected droplets from asymptomatic individuals.
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you should consider wearing a mask as an effort to limit droplets from entering social settings.
Do I Need To Wear My Face Cover All The Time When I Leave My House?
In a short answer- yes. The main goal of a cloth facial mask is to help prevent the spread of infected water droplets to communal areas.
It’s important to remember to shelter-in-place, but if you need to go into public places where social distancing is not guaranteed, then a facial mask is a great way to help flatten the curve.
If you are sick, then you should quarantine yourself in your home. Even if you are not sick, you should consider wearing a face mask to help reduce the amount of exposure in public places.
What Should I Use As A Filter In My Mask?
1. HEPA Filters & Furnace Filters
You can use traditional HEPA furnace filters in your cloth masks, and these tend to do the best job filtering out viruses and bacteria.
This is because the HEPA filters were designed to be used in home HVAC systems, so cutting them down and fitting them in a reusable face mask is one of the best types of filters that you can add to your cloth mask.
HEPA filters have been shown to be the most effective filtration system for a cloth mask. This material was tested to capture 89-94% of contaminants.
A furnace filter has been shown to capture 75% with two layers, and its effectiveness improved with additional layers.
Be aware that HEPA filters and standard furnace filters can shed small fibers that you could inhale. If you use this material for your cloth mask filter, then you should sandwich the filter between two cotton sheets.
2. Thick Fabric or Flannel
If you don’t want to cut down a HEPA HVAC filter, then you can also use a thick sheet of fabric from thick pillowcases.
The heavier, the better, so you could add a layer of 600-count pillowcases or flannel pajamas into your cloth mask.
This extra layer will make it difficult to breathe, but the additional layer of fabric should help capture more contaminants.
The trade-off with flannel material is that while it is an active filter, it can make breathing difficult.
You should choose the type of material for your filters based on the activity you will perform and how many people you think will be in the public area that you are visiting.
3. Coffee Filters
Another way to improve the filtration system of your cloth mask is to add a coffee filter. Doubling the coffee filter is a great way to capture particles, and coffee filters are cheap and readily available.
If you choose a coffee filter for your cloth mask, then you should double or even triple the number of filters inserted into your mask. This is because you want to have as many layers as possible to increase the number of contaminants the filter captures.
4. Blue Shop Towels
Finally, new research shows that blue shop towels are another tremendous low-cost filter for cloth face masks.
Blue shop towels are relatively inexpensive, and their thick construction and tight-knit make them the perfect addition to a reusable cloth mask.
Test how many layers you can add to your mask before it becomes difficult to breathe.
Shop towels are very dense, and you can pick them up at any home improvement store. Their density could make it hard to breathe easily.
Learn more about the best cloth face mask filter materials here.
How Should I Wear My Reusable Cloth Face Mask?
The main goal of wearing a cloth mask is to limit the number of droplets dispersed from your mouth and nose. However, you will need to follow some basic guidelines when wearing your mask to increase the effectiveness of your mask like:
- Wash your hands or sanitize your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer before putting on your mask. This step will reduce the chances of spreading any germs or viruses in the air to your face and eyes when putting on the cloth mask.
- Avoid touching your mask while wearing it. You should immediately clean your hands if you have to touch your mask throughout the day.
- Ensure your mask fits snug on your face. This means that there should not be any space between your nose, cheeks, and face mask.
- Keep your face mask dry when in use. The wet cloth will collect contaminants, so you should make sure that your mask is dry to reduce the number of particles you are exposed to.
- Be sure to limit how much you touch the cloth mask when removing the mask. Once you are done with the mask, you should take it off from behind the mask, and only touch the elastic or ties behind your mask. Sanitize or wash your hands after taking the mask off.
Should My Child Wear A Face Mask?
While there are lots of variables to consider, the short answer is yes- children should wear a face mask when going out into public.
While children are less likely to become ill, the CDC recommends that children two years and older wear a facial mask to “help stop the spread of the coronavirus.”
Similar to adult masks, CDC guidelines show that children face masks should be made out of simple cloth and fashioned with household materials.
There are several research findings that show masks can be outfitted with additional filtration systems to improve the effectiveness of the masks.
How Do I Clean A Reusable Face Mask?
Reusable cloth face masks are a great option to use for everyday use whenever you have to travel into public places if social distancing can’t be guaranteed.
Regularly cleaning your face mask is important since your mask could become contaminated when worn outside.
Your mask should be washed in hot water (160 F) using soap and water or detergent if washed in the washing machine. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the mask after washing, because residue can collect contaminants when worn.
You may also want to disinfect your mask by soaking it in a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach per quart of water (⅓ cup of bleach per gallon of water).
Disinfecting your mask is a great way to ensure your mask is clean and safe to wear before heading out. At the very least, you should wash your mask after each use, and be sure to wash your hands before and after handling your cloth facial mask!
Is It Safe To Reuse My Cloth Mask?
Yes, we created each mask with the intention of being used for daily use. As long as you follow the proper steps when putting on and taking off your mask, you will be able to use your mask throughout the week, along with regular washing.
Cloth masks should be washed in warm water (160 F) and mild soap or laundry detergent. It is important to ensure your mask is dry, and you can put your cloth mask in the drier at high heat setting along with sanitizers after the mask is dry before each use.
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